A recent cricket match in the league stage of the Indian Premier League (IPL) between Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Delhi Capitals (DC) ended in a tie after both teams scored the same number of runs in their designated 20 overs. To decide the winner, they played a Super Over.

The Tiebreaker

Now, a Super Over basically comprises an extra over for each team. The team that scores more runs in that extra over win the match. If the Super Over is tied, then another Super Over follows. And, this process goes on until a winner is decided. So, in this match, DC emerged the winners after scoring more runs in the Super Over. DC were awarded two points, while SRH got zero.

DC edge out SRH to win first Super Over-thriller of IPL 2021

If you observe the pattern above, the Super Over is just cricket’s version of football’s method of tie-breaker. Football utilizes Extra Time followed by subsequent penalty shoot-outs to decide the winner of an otherwise drawn match in the designated 90 minutes.

However, there is one difference. Football seems to use its tiebreaker only in the knock out matches of international and club tournaments, and never in the league stages. Cricket seems to use its tiebreaker even in the league stages of the Twenty20 World Cup and domestic T20 tournaments such as the IPL.

This is where I find it unnecessary.

Do We Need the Super Over Here?

I have been having some strong views on this for a while now. Post the result of the previous match between SRH and DC, it just provoked me again.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a fan or hater of either of these teams. I am speaking from a neutral cricket fan’s point of view.

I just don’t get the logic of needing a winner in the league/group stage of an IPL or a T20 World Cup. Why can’t they just split the points between the 2 teams by awarding them one point each? The teams play 14 league matches and they qualify for the playoffs or semi-finals based on their overall points anyway. In such a format it doesn’t make sense to have a winner for each match. Who the overall winners are throughout 14 matches is more important.

Also, I envision that the splitting of points in case of tied matches would open up the points table. It would give rise to more interesting possibilities with some teams having even and odd points.

Now, I did some quick research online to check if others have shared similar views on Super Overs in Cricket. And, I found this article titled ‘Two overs too many’ by Sambit Bal on ESPN Cricinfo:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/two-overs-too-many-401206

In the article, the author has shared some strong views on the use of Super Overs in general and how they disrupt the complex emotions involved in tied matches, which have an entertainment value on their own. I agree with these views, although I do not have any reservations about using Super Overs to determine winners in knock out matches and finals. In such matches, I find it necessary to have tiebreakers.

When a Tiebreaker is Beneficial

It was just painful when I was reminded by the article that the ODI Cricket World Cup had not used a tie-breaker even in the semi-final of the 1999 edition to determine the winner. That thrilling Australia-South Africa match was one of my earliest childhood memories of enjoying cricket with my father. But now, after all these years I question the logic of selecting Australia as a winner in that match. Wouldn’t the use of a tiebreaker have been more appropriate?

World Cup Memories: Australia v South Africa

Ironically, when the ODI World Cup finally embraced the use of tiebreakers it ended up in controversy, post the 2019 World Cup final between England and New Zealand. But that is a debate for another day. And, I can’t help but recall all those complex emotions that match brought (I lamented the loss of New Zealand, my favourite international cricket team after India).

I wish to conclude this article by pondering on the seemingly extreme measures taken by the rule-makers of the cricket world in terms of using a tiebreaker to determine winners. On one extreme, they don’t use it at all or employ bizarre rules for such scenarios in the ODI World Cup and other international tournaments. And on the other extreme, they use it freely in league stages of T20 tournaments where it is not necessary at all.

Hence, why not use the tie-breaker just in knock-out matches and finals of all tournaments with clear cut rules on deciding the winner? It is just a matter of keeping things simple while balancing the fairness, integrity and entertainment value of cricket tournaments.

So, how do you feel about the use of Super Overs? Do post in the comments section.

Also, for more information on the points table and remaining fixtures of the IPL 2021, you can visit here:

https://crickbulletin.com/new-schedule-of-ipl2021/